Tag Archives: isolated

In Defence of The Fence

Every time a bird locks my new neighbour’s chimney as its poo-goo target, the house’s newfangled alarm system makes me rise to arms. And feet. Construction work in progress, the neighbour has not yet inhabited the building – the system boos and hoots for a few minutes and then gets silent by itself. Nothing to write home about.

Every time a larger fly – or was it a backlash of rain – would happen through any of my car’s windows open for some nightly freshness, the alarm would be set off. In order not to wake up the locals, I would have had to leave the vehicle’s alarm off. But in doing so I would have shown recklessness – no dog of violent breed watched my sleep.

Yes, no dogs. Dogs poo and bark. They’re worse than cats. Cats like my car. My car doesn’t like cats – mainly their urine. Neither does my car like my neighbour’s car. Cars like parking spots they hate to share. Hardly anyone likes mail carriers. Mail carriers don’t like dogs. They like mailboxes. We don’t like mailboxes. Mailboxes, filled up with unclaimed leaflets, are liked by thieves. We don’t like thieves. Cops don’t like thieves. Cops like undisturbed peace. Thieves don’t like dogs. Nobody likes noises. Nobody likes birds. They poo and portend rainy weather. Birds like everyone, and so do mosquitoes. We live fenced, alarmed and stiff–aired (car windows up tight). Whenever I see a fence felled, I know it is going to go up, renovated and possibly stronger.

I read once: “The higher your fence needs be – the further you’re away from fellow humans”. That’s absurd. Were you a recluse in an uninhabited area, would your walls climb highest?

Who are the ‘fellow humans’ anyway? An anonymous crowd of high-rise dwellers? Some dog-in-home-owning rabble? Miscreants who block your parking lot? Certainly not. (BTDT.) Did we notice lists of occupants at our entryphones go blanker, blessed be the Personal Data Protection Act? Of course we did. Some experts will stress the word “community” then. It is not enough, they will insist, to have a neighbour. You’ve got to know your neighbour.

Experts are wrong. Knowledge means nothing, you need to love your neighbour – and be requited. A neighbour who hates your birds, brats, cats, cars, dogs, gods or guts – will not watch over your property, mailbox included.

Taken in by “trust thy neighbour” slogans, I did not invest in proper fencing – and guess what. (The photo shows but the tip of the trashberg, yet I can’t reveal more – ‘more’ could feature my neighbours happy face, one probably protected by the Personal Data Protection Act, a thousand blessings.) I can muse whether those who shared the fruit of their bins with me were charitable passers-by unperturbed by my benevolent neighbours, or were there the neighbours who did the dumping and the bystanders who did the watching?

Anynow on, whenever wherever I own anything, I shall enrich it with fences. They shall stand with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, they shall stand on my beaches, they shall stand on my hunting grounds, they shall stand in the fields, and at the streets, they shall stand high as hills, they shall never surrender. Bold and in observance of the law. Which says: You do not need a building permission to erect an enclosure lower than 2.20m. [Good!] Enclosures +1.80m tall can be embelllished with broken glass, barbed wire and other proper deterrents. [Goooood!]

And then let’s put balconies behind bars.
And turn our tailpipes against someone’s beloved flowers.
And buy more mohair berettas.

And a dog.
[I know – a dog. Some sacrifice is required.]

My heart crater rejoices every time I see new ideas for residential dwellings – that include barriers, moats, surroundings, shields to mean “back off! back off! yes, you too!”. It’s comforting to know that even when the designer can’t think of enclosures, life eliminates that engineering flaw and erects many a lock, stop and barrier. It’s reassuring to hum: “old villas do it, new villas do it, even educated folks do it, let’s do it: the fencing-off”. And may our only worry be – what to choose:

– Classic standard fairness…

– Modernity in style…

– A touch of elegant luxury

Or something more aggressive?

And don’t let some Polish sources confuse you. Don’t let some foreigners pervert your mind with de-fenced visions. They don’t have fences but they do secure their homes (that are their castles) in other ways.

Always bear in mind the nobler patterns the West bestowed upon us. Remember the ancient wisdom. Renounce the native errors.

Oh, by the way, whenever you see an unlocked car in the West, think of its owner “He / she is so lazy.” — Or “He / she is naive (read: dumb)”. — Or “He / she earns 4-8 times more than I do, so can afford any loss of a car”. — Or “His / her nanny state pays for his / her car theft insurance.”

Or simply: “He / she could be my neighbour”.

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Fact – Poles don’t want people to understand their culture/history

I’m driven to this rant by the film “Katyń”. Borrowed this from the DVD shop yesterday and was encouraged to see on the back that it included English subtitles. Of course, when you play it you realise that the English subtitles are actually a second set of Polish subtitles and so, yet again, you are hindered from understanding a little piece of Polish culture as well as you might. No wonder it didn’t win the Oscar, they probably had the same copy I did.

This may just be a technical problem but I find it to be entirely consistent with Poland’s general attitude towards playing a role as a part of a wider global community and helping outsiders to understand the country, its culture and history. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Polish films or TV programmes that have English available even as subtitles and yet there are at least 50 I would very much like to watch. With book translations I suppose it is slightly better but not many people have the time to read through all those books in the hope of getting something from it.

I went to Dubai. They had a “global village” where many countries had an exhibition and bazaar showing off their countries. It’s laughable to even think that Poland would bother, and they didn’t, but the Czech Republic did. Why should I be surprised? I travel a fair bit and I have never, not once, seen any exhibition, travelling show even an advert in an airport promoting Poland. Poland’s efforts in terms of promoting the country abroad would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. Still, Poland has a big population and doesn’t need to bother about marketing. Czech has a small population and so is ‘forced’ into all these marketing tricks to survive. IS THE WRONG ANSWER. You want to be another USA? All tied up in your own little petty issues with most of your population not being aware of anything outside Poland?

If I raise this issue I am generally told to “learn the language”. Pathetic excuse. Polish is not a language anyone globally would bother learning as it is only of any use in Poland or with other Poles around the world. It does not even come close to the usefulness of English, Spanish, French, German and others so expecting people to “learn the language” is the same as saying “Piss off, I don’t care if you understand this film or not”. For me, learning the language does apply, and I am learning it, but wouldn’t it help me to learn faster if I could watch some Polish films with English subtitles? I mean how hard can it be? There are zillions of English language films given Polish subtitles, so the art itself is not unknown. It’s just a one way street though. You want to suck up everyone else’s creative output whilst keeping all your own for yourselves, or for people who have learned the language.

No. The problem is simple to understand. Poland has a massive chip on its shoulder, perhaps a whole bag full of chips. If the world were one big classroom, Poland would be the child standing in the corner counting his new sweets and plotting revenge for all those times he was bullied in the playground. Poland wouldn’t be joining in the games with the other kids because “nobody understands him”. He’d be suspicious of strangers and forever picking fights with other kids over stupid, short sighted, issues. He’d be made fun of because his mum always dresses him up warm, makes sure he has plenty to eat and tells him to go to church. The report card for Poland would say “Anti-social, must try harder”.

My suggestion is that Poland knocks those chips off its shoulder, puts the past behind it (what else is there to do with it for God’s sake?) , and starts embracing its neighbours, the EU, the world in a grown up, adult, expansive, open, professional, collaborative kind of way. That it realises that the whole world is NOT going to learn Polish just so it can understand you better and that it is POLAND”S job to help people to understand it. Either that or accept the fact that you’re going to be forever an odd little island of paranoia, suspicion, self flagellation and stupidity in a sea of EU/Global harmony.

This has not been a big issue, yet, because the cooperation in terms of joining NATO, the EU, investment in infrastructure, awarding 2012 football championships and so on are in everyone’s interests, not just Poland. But when all that is done and Poland is still showing everyone the finger?

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